Camp opens next month, and despite a promise of big changes to the rotation and an aggressive pursuit of free agents this offseason, this is what the Twins’ projected rotation looks like to start the season:
Somehow, since the end of the season, their rotation got worse. Yes, the Twins have revamped their bullpen, and they deserve plaudits for that, but there has been no progress on the rotation as we look ahead to the start of the season. Certainly, there are two counters to this sentiment in favor of the Twins. 1) They have been waiting for a response from Yu Darvish, their primary target, and 2) they HAVE signed Michael Pineda.
To point one, I would say that a responsible front office would have made a back up plan, or signed some depth, at the very least. Not everyone is sold on Adalberto Mejia in the rotation, let alone Slegers, and even if they are, he would be of greater value as depth starting pitching, rather than the 4th starter. This is a rotation that needs more than one improvement, and not just one at the top. Even if they don’t sign Yu, if they focus some efforts on a middle tier starter, or perhaps a trade candidate, they will have better starting pitching in 2018 than they did in 2019, and one worries that they are losing sight of the entire market by focusing on the brightest star. (Casual aside, I really don’t like the Twins’ chances anyways)
As for Pineda, the Twins signed him with an eye towards 2019. Ervin Santana will be a free agent, and probably won’t be as good this year as he was in 2017, making the idea of resigning him prohibitive. That would open up three rotation spots, assuming nothing else is filled, were it not for Pineda.
The team is smart enough to not burn through Stephen Gonsalves or Zach Littell’s team control at the beginning of the season, and having Phil Hughes ready to go seems like a long shot. Even if you think the Twins are counting on any of those three guys (or any of the other prospects the Twins have), the Twins still need someone to make starts in April and May. It will pay dividends to have someone able to come on if someone gets hurt. It’s heartening that the Twins have at least explored the market for Chris Tillman and Wade Miley, because they would be well appreciated as depth additions.
At this point, it would be nice if they had anything to claim as a consolation prize, just in case they miss out on the big names in free agency. Even if those guys don’t end up signing before the season starts, that still counts as the Twins missing out on this offseason. It’s time for something to happen. It doesn’t have to be the big splash everyone anticipated in November, but it has to be something.